Latin script

Latin or Roman script is a set of graphic signs (script) based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet. This is derived from a form of the Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet used by the Etruscans.

Several Latin-script alphabets exist, which differ in graphemes, collation, and phonetic values from the classical Latin alphabet.

The Latin script is the basis of the International Phonetic Alphabet, and the 26 most widespread letters are the letters contained in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

Latin script is the basis for the largest number of alphabets of any writing system[1] and is the most widely adopted writing system in the world (commonly used by about 70 per cent of the world's population). Latin script is used as the standard method of writing in most Western, Central, as well as in some Eastern European languages, as well as in many languages in other parts of the world.

A Specimen by William Caslon
Time period
~700 BC–present
Parent systems
Child systems
indirectly, the Cherokee syllabary and Yugtun script
Sister systems
ISO 15924Latn, 215
Unicode alias
See Latin characters in Unicode


The script is either called Roman script or Latin script, in reference to its origin in ancient Rome. In the context of transliteration, the term "romanization" or "romanisation" is often found.[2][3] Unicode uses the term "Latin"[4] as does the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).[5]

The numeral system is called the Roman numeral system; and the collection of the elements, Roman numerals. The numbers 1, 2, 3 ... are Latin/Roman script numbers for the Hindu–Arabic numeral system.


Old Italic alphabet

Old Italic alphabet
Letters 𐌀 𐌁 𐌂 𐌃 𐌄 𐌅 𐌆 𐌇 𐌈 𐌉 𐌊 𐌋 𐌌 𐌍 𐌎 𐌏 𐌐 𐌑 𐌒 𐌓 𐌔 𐌕 𐌖 𐌗 𐌘 𐌙 𐌚
Transliteration A B C D E V Z H Θ I K L M N Ξ O P Ś Q R S T Y X Φ Ψ F

Archaic Latin alphabet

Archaic Latin alphabet
As Old Italic 𐌀 𐌁 𐌂 𐌃 𐌄 𐌅 𐌆 𐌇 𐌉 𐌊 𐌋 𐌌 𐌍 𐌏 𐌐 𐌒 𐌓 𐌔 𐌕 𐌖 𐌗
As Latin A B C D E F Z H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X

The letter ⟨C⟩ was the western form of the Greek gamma, but it was used for the sounds /ɡ/ and /k/ alike, possibly under the influence of Etruscan, which might have lacked any voiced plosives. Later, probably during the 3rd century BC, the letter ⟨Z⟩ – unneeded to write Latin properly – was replaced with the new letter ⟨G⟩, a ⟨C⟩ modified with a small vertical stroke, which took its place in the alphabet. From then on, ⟨G⟩ represented the voiced plosive /ɡ/, while ⟨C⟩ was generally reserved for the voiceless plosive /k/. The letter ⟨K⟩ was used only rarely, in a small number of words such as Kalendae, often interchangeably with ⟨C⟩.

Classical Latin alphabet

After the Roman conquest of Greece in the 1st century BC, Latin adopted the Greek letters ⟨Y⟩ and ⟨Z⟩ (or readopted, in the latter case) to write Greek loanwords, placing them at the end of the alphabet. An attempt by the emperor Claudius to introduce three additional letters did not last. Thus it was during the classical Latin period that the Latin alphabet contained 23 letters:

Classical Latin alphabet
Letter A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X Y Z
Latin name (majus) á é ef el em en ó q er es ix ꟾ graeca zéta
Latin name ā ē ef ī el em en ō er es ū ix ī Graeca zēta
Latin pronunciation (IPA) beː keː deː ɛf ɡeː haː kaː ɛl ɛm ɛn peː kuː ɛr ɛs teː iks iː ˈɡraeka ˈdzeːta

ISO basic Latin alphabet

ISO basic Latin alphabet
Uppercase Latin alphabet A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Lowercase Latin alphabet a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The use of the letters I and V for both consonants and vowels proved inconvenient as the Latin alphabet was adapted to Germanic and Romance languages. W originated as a doubled V (VV) used to represent the sound [w] found in Old English as early as the 7th century. It came into common use in the later 11th century, replacing the runic Wynn letter which had been used for the same sound. In the Romance languages, the minuscule form of V was a rounded u; from this was derived a rounded capital U for the vowel in the 16th century, while a new, pointed minuscule v was derived from V for the consonant. In the case of I, a word-final swash form, j, came to be used for the consonant, with the un-swashed form restricted to vowel use. Such conventions were erratic for centuries. J was introduced into English for the consonant in the 17th century (it had been rare as a vowel), but it was not universally considered a distinct letter in the alphabetic order until the 19th century.

By the 1960s, it became apparent to the computer and telecommunications industries in the First World that a non-proprietary method of encoding characters was needed. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) encapsulated the Latin alphabet in their (ISO/IEC 646) standard. To achieve widespread acceptance, this encapsulation was based on popular usage. As the United States held a preeminent position in both industries during the 1960s, the standard was based on the already published American Standard Code for Information Interchange, better known as ASCII, which included in the character set the 26 × 2 (uppercase and lowercase) letters of the English alphabet. Later standards issued by the ISO, for example ISO/IEC 10646 (Unicode Latin), have continued to define the 26 × 2 letters of the English alphabet as the basic Latin alphabet with extensions to handle other letters in other languages.


Latin alphabet world distribution
The distribution of the Latin script. The dark green areas show the countries where the Latin script is the sole main script. Light green shows countries where Latin co-exists with other scripts. Latin-script alphabets are sometimes extensively used in areas coloured grey due to the use of unofficial second languages, such as French in Algeria and English in Egypt, and to Latin transliteration of the official script, such as pinyin in China.

The Latin alphabet spread, along with Latin, from the Italian Peninsula to the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea with the expansion of the Roman Empire. The eastern half of the Empire, including Greece, Turkey, the Levant, and Egypt, continued to use Greek as a lingua franca, but Latin was widely spoken in the western half, and as the western Romance languages evolved out of Latin, they continued to use and adapt the Latin alphabet.

Middle Ages

With the spread of Western Christianity during the Middle Ages, the Latin alphabet was gradually adopted by the peoples of Northern Europe who spoke Celtic languages (displacing the Ogham alphabet) or Germanic languages (displacing earlier Runic alphabets) or Baltic languages, as well as by the speakers of several Uralic languages, most notably Hungarian, Finnish and Estonian.

The Latin script also came into use for writing the West Slavic languages and several South Slavic languages, as the people who spoke them adopted Roman Catholicism. The speakers of East Slavic languages generally adopted Cyrillic along with Orthodox Christianity. The Serbian language uses both scripts, with Cyrillic predominating in official communication and Latin elsewhere, as determined by the Law on Official Use of the Language and Alphabet.[6]

Since the 16th century

As late as 1500, the Latin script was limited primarily to the languages spoken in Western, Northern, and Central Europe. The Orthodox Christian Slavs of Eastern and Southeastern Europe mostly used Cyrillic, and the Greek alphabet was in use by Greek-speakers around the eastern Mediterranean. The Arabic script was widespread within Islam, both among Arabs and non-Arab nations like the Iranians, Indonesians, Malays, and Turkic peoples. Most of the rest of Asia used a variety of Brahmic alphabets or the Chinese script.

Through European colonization the Latin script has spread to the Americas, Oceania, parts of Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, in forms based on the Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, German and Dutch alphabets.

It is used for many Austronesian languages, including the languages of the Philippines and the Malaysian and Indonesian languages, replacing earlier Arabic and indigenous Brahmic alphabets. Latin letters served as the basis for the forms of the Cherokee syllabary developed by Sequoyah; however, the sound values are completely different.

Since 19th century

In the late 19th century, the Romanians returned to the Latin alphabet, which they had used until the Council of Florence in 1439,[7] primarily because Romanian is a Romance language. The Romanians were predominantly Orthodox Christians, and their Church, increasingly influenced by Russia after the fall of Byzantine Greek Constantinople in 1453 and capture of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, had begun promoting the Slavic Cyrillic.

Under French rule and Portuguese missionary influence, a Latin alphabet was devised for the Vietnamese language, which had previously used Chinese characters.

Since 20th century

In 1928, as part of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's reforms, the new Republic of Turkey adopted a Latin alphabet for the Turkish language, replacing a modified Arabic alphabet. Most of the Turkic-speaking peoples of the former USSR, including Tatars, Bashkirs, Azeri, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and others, used the Latin-based Uniform Turkic alphabet in the 1930s; but, in the 1940s, all were replaced by Cyrillic.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, three of the newly independent Turkic-speaking republics, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, as well as Romanian-speaking Moldova, officially adopted Latin alphabets for their languages. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Iranian-speaking Tajikistan, and the breakaway region of Transnistria kept the Cyrillic alphabet, chiefly due to their close ties with Russia.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the majority of Kurds replaced the Arabic script with two Latin alphabets. Although the only official Kurdish government uses an Arabic alphabet for public documents, the Latin Kurdish alphabet remains widely used throughout the region by the majority of Kurdish-speakers.

Since 21th century

In 2015, the government of Kazakhstan announced that a Kazakh Latin alphabet would replace the Kazakh Cyrillic alphabet as the official writing system for the Kazakh language by 2025.[8]

International standards

By the 1960s, it became apparent to the computer and telecommunications industries in the First World that a non-proprietary method of encoding characters was needed. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) encapsulated the Latin alphabet in their (ISO/IEC 646) standard. To achieve widespread acceptance, this encapsulation was based on popular usage.

As the United States held a preeminent position in both industries during the 1960s, the standard was based on the already published American Standard Code for Information Interchange, better known as ASCII, which included in the character set the 26 × 2 (uppercase and lowercase) letters of the English alphabet. Later standards issued by the ISO, for example ISO/IEC 10646 (Unicode Latin), have continued to define the 26 × 2 letters of the English alphabet as the basic Latin alphabet with extensions to handle other letters in other languages.

As used by various languages

In the course of its use, the Latin alphabet was adapted for use in new languages, sometimes representing phonemes not found in languages that were already written with the Roman characters. To represent these new sounds, extensions were therefore created, be it by adding diacritics to existing letters, by joining multiple letters together to make ligatures, by creating completely new forms, or by assigning a special function to pairs or triplets of letters. These new forms are given a place in the alphabet by defining an alphabetical order or collation sequence, which can vary with the particular language.


Some examples of new letters to the standard Latin alphabet are the Runic letters wynn ⟨Ƿ/ƿ⟩ and thorn ⟨Þ/þ⟩, and the letter eth ⟨Ð/ð⟩, which were added to the alphabet of Old English. Another Irish letter, the insular g, developed into yogh ⟨Ȝ/ȝ⟩, used in Middle English. Wynn was later replaced with the new letter ⟨w⟩, eth and thorn with ⟨th⟩, and yogh with ⟨gh⟩. Although the four are no longer part of the English or Irish alphabets, eth and thorn are still used in the modern Icelandic and Faroese alphabets.

Some West, Central and Southern African languages use a few additional letters that have a similar sound value to their equivalents in the IPA. For example, Adangme uses the letters ⟨Ɛ/ɛ⟩ and ⟨Ɔ/ɔ⟩, and Ga uses ⟨Ɛ/ɛ⟩, ⟨Ŋ/ŋ⟩ and ⟨Ɔ/ɔ⟩. Hausa uses ⟨Ɓ/ɓ⟩ and ⟨Ɗ/ɗ⟩ for implosives, and ⟨Ƙ/ƙ⟩ for an ejective. Africanists have standardized these into the African reference alphabet.

The Azerbaijani language also has the letter written as "Ə", which represents the near-open front unrounded vowel.


A digraph is a pair of letters used to write one sound or a combination of sounds that does not correspond to the written letters in sequence. Examples are ⟨ch⟩, ⟨ng⟩, ⟨rh⟩, ⟨sh⟩ in English, and ⟨ij⟩ in Dutch. In Dutch the ⟨ij⟩ is capitalized as ⟨IJ⟩ or the ligature ⟨IJ⟩, but never as ⟨Ij⟩, and it often takes the appearance of a ligature ⟨ij⟩ very similar to the letter ⟨ÿ⟩ in handwriting.

A trigraph is made up of three letters, like the Germansch⟩, the Bretonc'h⟩ or the Milanese ⟨oeu⟩. In the orthographies of some languages, digraphs and trigraphs are regarded as independent letters of the alphabet in their own right. The capitalization of digraphs and trigraphs is language-dependent, as only the first letter may be capitalized, or all component letters simultaneously (even for words written in titlecase, where letters after the digraph or trigraph are left in lowercase).


A ligature is a fusion of two or more ordinary letters into a new glyph or character. Examples are ⟨Æ/æ⟩ (from ⟨AE⟩, called "ash"), ⟨Œ/œ⟩ (from ⟨OE⟩, sometimes called "oethel"), the abbreviation&⟩ (from Latin et "and"), and the German symbol ⟨ß⟩ ("sharp S" or "eszet", from ⟨ſz⟩ or ⟨ſs⟩, the archaic medial form of ⟨s⟩, followed by a ⟨z⟩ or ⟨s⟩).


Small a with acute
The letter ⟨a⟩ with an acute diacritic.

A diacritic, in some cases also called an accent, is a small symbol that can appear above or below a letter, or in some other position, such as the umlaut sign used in the German characters ⟨ä⟩, ⟨ö⟩, ⟨ü⟩ or the Romanian characters ă, â, î, ș, ț. Its main function is to change the phonetic value of the letter to which it is added, but it may also modify the pronunciation of a whole syllable or word, or distinguish between homographs (such as the Dutch words een meaning "a" or "an", and één, meaning "one"). As with letters, the value of diacritics is language-dependent.

English is the only major modern European language requiring no diacritics for native words (although a diaeresis may be used in words such as "coöperation").[9][10]


Some modified letters, such as the symbols ⟨å⟩, ⟨ä⟩, and ⟨ö⟩, may be regarded as new individual letters in themselves, and assigned a specific place in the alphabet for collation purposes, separate from that of the letter on which they are based, as is done in Swedish. In other cases, such as with ⟨ä⟩, ⟨ö⟩, ⟨ü⟩ in German, this is not done; letter-diacritic combinations being identified with their base letter. The same applies to digraphs and trigraphs. Different diacritics may be treated differently in collation within a single language. For example, in Spanish, the character ⟨ñ⟩ is considered a letter, and sorted between ⟨n⟩ and ⟨o⟩ in dictionaries, but the accented vowels ⟨á⟩, ⟨é⟩, ⟨í⟩, ⟨ó⟩, ⟨ú⟩ are not separated from the unaccented vowels ⟨a⟩, ⟨e⟩, ⟨i⟩, ⟨o⟩, ⟨u⟩.


The languages that use the Latin script today generally use capital letters to begin paragraphs and sentences and proper nouns. The rules for capitalization have changed over time, and different languages have varied in their rules for capitalization. Old English, for example, was rarely written with even proper nouns capitalized; whereas Modern English of the 18th century had frequently all nouns capitalized, in the same way that Modern German is written today, e.g. Alle Schwestern der alten Stadt hatten die Vögel gesehen ("All of the sisters of the old city had seen the birds").


Words from languages natively written with other scripts, such as Arabic or Chinese, are usually transliterated or transcribed when embedded in Latin-script text or in multilingual international communication, a process termed Romanization.

Whilst the Romanization of such languages is used mostly at unofficial levels, it has been especially prominent in computer messaging where only the limited 7-bit ASCII code is available on older systems. However, with the introduction of Unicode, Romanization is now becoming less necessary. Note that keyboards used to enter such text may still restrict users to Romanized text, as only ASCII or Latin-alphabet characters may be available.

See also


  1. ^ Haarmann 2004, p. 96.
  2. ^ "Search results | BSI Group". Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  3. ^ "Romanisation_systems". Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  4. ^ "ISO 15924 – Code List in English". Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  5. ^ "Search – ISO". Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  6. ^ "Zakon O Službenoj Upotrebi Jezika I Pisama" (PDF). 17 May 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-05.
  7. ^ "Descriptio_Moldaviae". 1714. Retrieved 2014-09-14.
  8. ^ Kazakh language to be converted to Latin alphabet – MCS RK. (30 January 2015). Retrieved on 2015-09-28.
  9. ^ As an example, an article containing a diaeresis in "coöperate" and a cedilla in "façades" as well as a circumflex in the word "crêpe" (Grafton, Anthony (2006-10-23). "Books: The Nutty Professors, The history of academic charisma". The New Yorker.)
  10. ^ "The New Yorker's odd mark – the diaeresis"


  • Haarmann, Harald (2004), Geschichte der Schrift [History of Writing] (in German) (2nd ed.), München: C. H. Beck, ISBN 978-3-406-47998-4

Further reading

  • Boyle, Leonard E. 1976. "Optimist and recensionist: 'Common errors' or 'common variations.'" In Latin script and letters A.D. 400–900: Festschrift presented to Ludwig Bieler on the occasion of his 70th birthday. Edited by John J. O’Meara and Bernd Naumann, 264–74. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.
  • Morison, Stanley. 1972. Politics and script: Aspects of authority and freedom in the development of Graeco-Latin script from the sixth century B.C. to the twentieth century A.D. Oxford: Clarendon.

External links

ALA-LC romanization

ALA-LC (American Library Association - Library of Congress) is a set of standards for romanization, the representation of text in other writing systems using the Latin script.

Dž (titlecase form; all-capitals form DŽ, lowercase dž) is the seventh letter of the Gaj's Latin alphabet for Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian), after D and before Đ. It is pronounced [d͡ʒ]. Dž is a digraph that corresponds to the letter Dzhe (Џ/џ) of the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet. It is also the tenth letter of the Slovak alphabet. Although several other languages (see below) also use the letter combination DŽ, they treat it as a pair of the letters D and Ž, not as a single distinct letter.

Note that when the letter is the initial of a capitalised word (like Džungla or Džemper, or personal names like Džemal or Džamonja), the ž is not uppercase. Only when the whole word is written in uppercase, is the Ž capitalised.

Eau (trigraph)

Eau is a trigraph of the Latin script.

Gaj's Latin alphabet

Gaj's Latin alphabet (Serbo-Croatian: abeceda, latinica, or gajica) is the form of the Latin script used in Serbo-Croatian and all of its standard varieties: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, and Montenegrin. It was devised by Croatian linguist Ljudevit Gaj in 1835, based on Jan Hus's Czech alphabet. A slightly reduced version is used as the script of the Slovene language, and a slightly expanded version is used as a script of the modern standard Montenegrin language. A modified version is used for the romanization of the Macedonian language. Pavao Ritter Vitezović had proposed an idea for the orthography of the Croatian language, stating that every sound should have only one letter. Gaj's alphabet is currently used in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

Hungarian ly

Ly is a digraph of the Latin alphabet, used in Hungarian.

Latin-script alphabet

A Latin-script alphabet (Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet) is an alphabet that uses letters of the Latin script.

The 21-letter archaic Latin alphabet and the 23-letter classical Latin alphabet belong to the oldest of this group. The 26-letter ISO basic Latin alphabet, adopted the earlier ASCII alphabet and contains the 26 letters of the English alphabet. It, in turn, has been incorporated into more recent international standards that include additions to handle the other alphabets derived from the classical Latin alphabet.

Apart from alphabets for spoken languages, there exist phonetic alphabets and spelling alphabets.

Some letters of the Latin script were altered slightly for use in particular languages, although the main letters are largely the same. There were several general types of alterations made to extend the alphabet's uses, depending on the language: diacritics could be added to existing letters; two letters could be fused together into ligatures; additional letters could be inserted; or pairs or triplets of letters could be treated as units (digraphs and trigraphs).

Any additional letters were often given a place in the alphabet by defining an alphabetical order or collation sequence, which can vary between languages. Some of the additions, especially letters which only have diacritics added to them, were not considered distinct letters for this purpose. For example, the French é and the German ö are not listed separately in their respective alphabet sequences. In some languages, digraphs are included in the collation sequence (e.g. Hungarian CS, Welsh RH).

The International Phonetic Alphabet is also derived mainly from the Latin script.

Latin-script multigraph

A Latin-script multigraph is a multigraph consisting of characters of the Latin script.

digraphs (two letters, as ⟨ch⟩ or ⟨ea⟩)

trigraphs (three letters, as ⟨tch⟩ or ⟨eau⟩)

tetragraphs (four letters, as German ⟨tsch⟩)

pentagraphs (five letters)

Latin alphabet

The Latin or Roman alphabet is the writing system originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin language.

Latin script in Unicode

Many Unicode characters belonging to the Latin script are encoded in the Unicode Standard. As of version 12.0 of the Unicode Standard, 1,366 characters in the following blocks are classified as belonging to the Latin script:

Basic Latin, 0000–007F. This block corresponds to ASCII.

Latin-1 Supplement, 0080–00FF

Latin Extended-A, 0100–017F

Latin Extended-B, 0180–024F

IPA Extensions, 0250–02AF

Spacing Modifier Letters, 02B0–02FF

Phonetic Extensions, 1D00–1D7F

Phonetic Extensions Supplement, 1D80–1DBF

Latin Extended Additional, 1E00–1EFF

Superscripts and Subscripts, 2070–209F

Letterlike Symbols, 2100–214F

Number Forms, 2150–218F

Latin Extended-C, 2C60–2C7F

Latin Extended-D, A720–A7FF

Latin Extended-E, AB30–AB6F

Alphabetic Presentation Forms (Latin ligatures) FB00–FB4F

Halfwidth and Fullwidth Forms, FF00–FFEFIn addition, a number of Latin-like characters are encoded in the Currency Symbols, Control Pictures, CJK Compatibility, Enclosed Alphanumerics, Enclosed CJK Letters and Months, Mathematical Alphanumeric Symbols, and Enclosed Alphanumeric Supplement blocks, but although they look like Latin letters they have the script property of common, and so do not belong to the Latin script in Unicode terms. Lisu also consists almost entirely of Latin forms but uses its own script property.

The extended ranges contain mainly precomposed diacritics that may be equivalently encoded with combining diacritics, as well as some ligatures, used in the orthography of various African languages (including click symbols in Latin Extended-B) and the Vietnamese alphabet (Latin Extended Additional). Latin Extended-C contains additions for Uighur and the Claudian letters. Latin Extended-D comprises characters that are mostly of interest to medievalists. Latin Extended-E mostly comprises characters used for German dialectology (Teuthonista).

List of Latin-script keyboard layouts

The QWERTY keyboard layout, along with its direct derivatives such as QWERTZ and AZERTY, is the primary keyboard layout for the Latin alphabet. However, there are also keyboard layouts that do not resemble QWERTY very closely, if at all. Some of these are used for languages where QWERTY may be unsuitable. Others are specially designed to reduce finger movement and are claimed by some proponents to offer higher typing speed along with ergonomic benefits.

List of Latin-script pentagraphs

In the Latin script, pentagraphs are found primarily in Irish orthography. There is one archaic pentagraph in German orthography, which is found in the English word Nietzschean.

List of Latin-script tetragraphs

This is a list of tetragraphs in the Latin script. These are most common in Irish orthography. For Cyrillic tetragraphs, see tetragraph#Cyrillic script.

List of languages by writing system

Below is a list of languages sorted by writing system (by alphabetical order).

Merovingian script

Merovingian script or Gallo-Roman script was a medieval variant of the Latin script so called because it was developed in Gaul during the Merovingian dynasty. It was used in the 7th and 8th centuries before the Carolingian dynasty and the development of Carolingian minuscule.


Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written text, and transcription, for representing the spoken word, and combinations of both. Transcription methods can be subdivided into phonemic transcription, which records the phonemes or units of semantic meaning in speech, and more strict phonetic transcription, which records speech sounds with precision.

Spread of the Latin script

This article discusses the geographic spread of the Latin script throughout history, from its archaic beginnings in Latium to the dominant writing system on Earth in modernity.

The Latin letters' ancestors are found in the Etruscan, Greek and ultimately Phoenician alphabet. As the Roman Empire expanded in late antiquity, the Latin script and language spread along with its conquests, and remained in use in Italy, Iberia and Western Europe after the Western Roman Empire's disappearance. During the early and high Middle Ages, the script was spread by Christian missionaries and rulers, replacing earlier writing systems on the British Isles, Central and Northern Europe.

In the Age of Discovery, the first wave of European colonisation saw the adoption of Latin alphabets primarily in the Americas and Australia, whereas sub-Sahara Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific were Latinised in the period of New Imperialism. Realising that Latin was now the most widely used script on Earth, the Bolsheviks made efforts to develop and establish Latin alphabets for all languages in the lands they controlled in Eastern Europe, North and Central Asia. However, after the Soviet Union's first three decades, these were gradually abandoned in the 1930s in favour of Cyrillic. Some post-Soviet Turkic-majority states decided to reintroduce the Latin script in the 1990s after the 1928 example of Turkey. In the early 21st century, non-Latin writing systems were still only prevalent in most parts of the Middle East and North Africa and former Soviet regions, most countries in Indochina, South and East Asia, Ethiopia and some Balkan countries in Europe.

Sz (digraph)

Sz is a digraph of the Latin script, used in Hungarian, Polish, Kashubian and German, and in the Wade–Giles system of Romanization of Chinese.


Tzsch is an old pentagraph used in German to write the sound /tʃ/. It has largely been supplanted by tsch, but is still found in surnames such as:







TuntzschIn the surname Schatzschneider, the sequence tzsch is not a pentagraph (Schatz-schneider).

Uyghur Latin alphabet

The Uyghur Latin alphabet (Uyghur: ئۇيغۇر لاتىن يېزىقى‎, Уйғур Латин Йезиқи, Uyghur Latin Yëziqi, ULY) is an auxiliary alphabet for the Uyghur language based on the Latin script. Uyghur is primarily written in an Arabic alphabet and sometimes in a Cyrillic alphabet.

Latin script
Alphabets (list)
Letters (list)
Keyboard layouts (list)
ISO 15924 script codes

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